Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tuesday Must Reads: Warriors Must Solve Traffic Problems to Get UCSF Okay; A Second Oakland City Union Authorizes Strike

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Jul 28, 2015 at 9:57 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The Golden State Warriors must solve potential traffic problems related to its planned arena in San Francisco in order to win approval from nearby UC San Francisco Medical Center, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. The primary issue concerns when the Warriors arena will be in use on the same nights as San Francisco Giants home games. In order for the arena to pencil out financially, the Warriors need to rent out the facility for concerts and other events when the team is not playing. Some wealthy UCSF donors, meanwhile, say they will fight the arena regardless of whether a deal is worked out over traffic.

2. A second Oakland public employee union has voted to authorize a strike if negotiations with the city fail to produce a new contract, the Trib$ reports. Members of IFPTE Local 21, which represents middle managers, okayed a strike. Previously, SEIU Local 1021, which represents rank and file workers, authorized one.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday Must Reads: Oakland Animal Rights Activists Face Terrorism Charges; Monster El Niño Forming Along West Coast

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Jul 27, 2015 at 9:51 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Federal authorities have charged two animal rights activists from Oakland with terrorism for releasing thousands of minks from fur farms across the country and vandalizing property, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. The activists, Joseph Buddenberg, 31, and Nicole Kissane, 28, allegedly sneaked onto fur farms, released minks, and destroyed breeding records in Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. The two also allegedly vandalized furriers and are facing charges under the federal Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. They each could be sentenced up to ten years in prison.

2. Climate scientists say a massive El Niño event is forming off the West Coast and could produce the wettest winter on record, SF Gate reports. The El Niño could be even stronger than the one in the winter of 1997-98, which brought record rainfall to California.

3. Jerry Brown told the Vatican that one-third of the world’s known oil reserves should remain in the ground in order to prevent catastrophic climate change, but the governor is refusing to curtail oil production in California, the Chron$ reports.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Public Land Is Plentiful in Oakland, But Rules Don’t Require the City to Prioritize Affordable Housing

by Darwin BondGraham
Fri, Jul 24, 2015 at 1:43 PM

Oakland's surplus lands.
  • Oakland's surplus lands.
Affordable housing advocates prevailed in the fight over the 12th Street Remainder Parcel – where a developer and the city wanted to build a luxury apartment tower with no consideration for affordable housing – because state law requires surplus city land be offered first to affordable housing developers. But the 12th Street Remainder Parcel might prove the exception in Oakland’s contentious debate over public lands policy.

A recent study conducted for Oakland’s department of housing and community development indicates that Oakland is rich in public land, but very little of this property is subject to the Surplus Land Act. And the city isn’t prioritizing affordable housing construction on the massive publicly-owned parcels that are exempt from the law.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Opposition Grows Against Proposed Coal Exports from Oakland Army Base Project

by Jean Tepperman
Wed, Jul 22, 2015 at 1:50 PM

Protesters rallied against coal outside Oakland City Hall on Tuesday. - JEAN TEPPERMAN
  • Jean Tepperman
  • Protesters rallied against coal outside Oakland City Hall on Tuesday.
Last week Oakland Councilmembers Dan Kalb, Rebecca Kaplan and Larry Reid scheduled a hearing for September 21 about proposed exports of coal from a planned marine terminal at the Oakland Army Base development site. On Monday state Senator Loni Hancock and Assemblymembers Rob Bonta and Tony Thurmond published an oped opposing coal shipments from Oakland in the Chronicle. And on Tuesday about 200 protesters demanded a ban on coal shipment during an Oakland city council meeting.

See also: Activists Work to Stop East Bay Coal Exports
See also: Oakland Moves Forward on Fossil Fuel Ban

All this opposition to developer Phil Tagami's plan to export coal from Oakland is “the result of two or three months of intensive grassroots organizing,” said Ray Kidd of West Oakland Neighbors. Kidd’s group recently joined more than 80 organizations, small business owners, and public officials by signing onto a Sierra Club letter opposing coal shipments through the new Oakland Bulk and Oversize Terminal (OBOT), a port facility that is being built on the site of the old Oakland Army Base. More than 10,000 individuals have also signed a letter of opposition.

“We’ve had teams of two to five people visiting city council members, meeting with staff, meeting with members of the Alameda County Transportation Commission, county supervisors and state legislators,” said Margaret Gordon, a longtime West Oakland environmental activist, about the growing movement.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tuesday Must Reads: California Ranks 49th in Kids’ Economic Well-Being; Oakland Council Puts Off Compost-Trash Issue

by Robert Gammon
Tue, Jul 21, 2015 at 9:40 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. California ranks second to last — ahead of only Mississippi — in terms of the economic well-being of children, the Chron$ reports. According to the 2015 Kids Count report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, 23 percent of children in the state were living in poverty in 2013, the most recent year in which data was available. Only Mississippi was worse with 34 percent of kids living in poverty.

Sabrina Landreth.
  • Sabrina Landreth.
2. The Oakland City Council put off dealing with the controversy over the city’s new composting rates for restaurants and other commercial businesses — which are higher than trash rates, the Trib$ reports. New City Administrator Sabrina Landreth is working with Waste Management, the city’s trash hauler, to devise a solution to the problem.

3. The Berkeley City Council has adopted a new system for requiring downtown developers to offer “significant community benefits” with their projects, the Trib$ reports. Developers can offer a package of benefits or pay a flat fee to the city.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

The Express Wins Four National Journalism Awards

by Express staff and contributors
Mon, Jul 20, 2015 at 10:03 AM

The Express won four awards, including two first-place honors, in the Association of Alternative Newsmedia Awards for excellence in journalism. The national contest included entries from 71 altweeklies throughout the United States and Canada. 

Senior writer Sam Levin and Arts and Culture editor Sarah Burke each won two awards. Levin won a first-place honor in the long-form news category for his cover story “When the Mind Splits” (10/29/14), an in-depth look at the controversy surrounding dissociative identity disorder, which affects millions of people and yet some psychologists doubt its existence.

Burke won a first-place award in LGBT-gender equality coverage for her cover story “Moral Combat” (10/15/14), which examined the vicious harassment campaign against women in the videogame industry. Burke also won a third-place award for arts criticism.

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Monday Must Reads: Oakland Councilmember’s Nonprofit Wastes $400,000 in Public Funds; Judge Says Taxi Companies Can Sue Uber

by Robert Gammon
Mon, Jul 20, 2015 at 9:19 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

Larry Reid.
  • Larry Reid.
1. A shady nonprofit co-founded by Oakland Councilmember Larry Reid wasted $400,000 in public funds on a plan to build housing near the Coliseum BART station, the Chron$ reports. About $100,000 of the money spent by Reid’s Oakland Economic Development Corporation went to Michael Johnson, CEO of UrbanCore, the politically connected developer that also was going to get public land near Lake Merritt in an illegal deal that recently unraveled.

2. A judge ruled that taxicab companies can sue Uber for false advertising for claiming that its service offers the safest rides on the road, the Chron reports. Taxi companies have pointed out that taxi drivers undergo extensive background checks and must pass driver safety tests.

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Waste Management, Oakland Propose Reduced Compost Rates After Restaurants' Protests

by Sam Levin
Fri, Jul 17, 2015 at 5:28 PM

Gail Lillian, owner of Liba Falafel, which received massive rate increases for composting this month. - FILE PHOTO / BERT JOHNSON
  • file photo / bert johnson
  • Gail Lillian, owner of Liba Falafel, which received massive rate increases for composting this month.
After a loud outcry from Oakland restaurants about the massive increases in composting rates in the city's new trash program, city officials have proposed a change to the prices that would make it less expensive for businesses to sustainably recycle their food waste. As I reported earlier this week, the city's contract with Waste Management, the corporation that now has an exclusive franchise over composting services for commercial customers, brought exorbitant increases to restaurants that had previously used outside haulers for composting. According to a letter that 35 restaurant owners sent to city officials and Waste Management, many of them are now paying as much as 80 to 120 percent more to compost the same amount of materials. 

Also troubling was the fact that under the new contract, which city council approved last fall and went into effect on July 1, it now costs businesses more to compost than to throw waste in the trash. For example, businesses with 20-gallon carts picked up once a week now pay $27.97 a month for trash, but $33.84 for compost; or 64-gallon carts with pickups twice a week cost businesses $165.42 monthly for trash, but $198 for compost. These prices, critics said, are environmentally regressive in that they incentive restaurants to stop composting and instead throw food waste in the garbage.

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Eden Township and County Supervisor Push for a Parcel Tax to Help Two Struggling East Bay Hospitals

by Steven Tavares
Fri, Jul 17, 2015 at 10:50 AM

San Leandro Hospital.
  • San Leandro Hospital.
Two struggling East Bay hospitals may need the help of voters next year with a parcel tax. The embattled Eden Township Healthcare District is taking the first steps toward exploring whether a district-wide parcel tax is feasible — and whether it has the legal authority to pursue a ballot measure. Although the Eden Township District no longer oversees any hospitals, the parcel tax proceeds would benefit one of the hospitals it used to run: San Leandro Hospital. The district, which stretches between San Leandro and Union City and includes portions of unincorporated Alameda County, also used to operate Eden Hospital in Castro Valley. 

In recent months, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan and the San Leandro City Council have urged the Eden Township District to pay more toward helping the financially strapped San Leandro Hospital. Officials from Alameda Health System, which now operate the hospital, said the facility lost $12 million last year and expects another shortfall of around $4.7 million this fiscal year. San Leandro Hospital Administrator James Jackson, though, boasted recently to the San Leandro City Council that he would improve on estimates for this year, a fact that may undermine the need for taxpayers’ help next year.

Last week, Chan said her office is currently seeking local and state legislators to sign on to her plan calling for Sutter Health and the Eden Township Healthcare District to contribute a yearly total subsidy of $4 million over five years to San Leandro Hospital.

But a split among members of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors over how to prop up the hospital was revealed at an Eden Township District board meeting Wednesday when Supervisor Richard Valle offered strong support for pursuing a potential hospital parcel tax. Any parcel tax, however, must be evenly split between two hospitals: San Leandro Hospital and St. Rose Hospital in Hayward, said Valle. In fact, St. Rose is arguably in worse financial shape than San Leandro Hospital and still owes the Eden Township more than $1 million for short-term loan to replenish its cash flow. “I think at the end of the day, if we all know it will benefit these two hospitals,” said Valle, “I think we’ll stand up because we know it’s going to be a big lift, we all know that.”

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Friday Must Reads: Feds to Bar Oil Wastewater in 10 California Aquifers; Leading Pot Legalization Measure to Launch

by Robert Gammon
Fri, Jul 17, 2015 at 10:00 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. The US Environmental Protection Agency likely will bar oil companies from injecting toxic wastewater into ten underground aquifers in California because of concerns over the contamination of water that could be used for drinking supplies and agriculture, the Chron$ reports. The state had been allowing oil companies to inject billions of gallons of oil wastewater into aquifers for decades without regulation. Injections into five of the aquifers have already been banned, and the EPA likely will bar injections into the other five by the end of 2016.

2. Backers of a marijuana legalization measure that observers say has the best chance of passing next year are kicking off their campaign, the Bay Area News Group$ reports. A group known as ReformCA will need 365,000 signatures to make it onto the 2016 ballot, and Dale Sky Jones of Oakland’s Oaksterdam, said the group requires about $14 million to run a successful campaign.

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